Of Mosque’s and Book Burnings

When I started writing this post, it was to be somewhat of a rant. As it turns out, it came out more “preachy” than “ranty’. I hope will forgive me, and indulge me just a little 🙂 .

Unless you live under a rock (or are much smarter than me and ignore the mainstream news), you have no doubt heard about the plans to build a mosque new so-called Ground Zero in new York. You have also heard of the debate that has sprung up between proponents of the mosque, and those who oppose it.

At the same time, we have someone who calls himself a Christian, and a leader at that, proposing to hold an event to burn copies of the Quran, and encouraging others around the United States to do the same.

Although both of these controversies stem from very different motivations, they both illustrate the very clear difference between what is legal, and what is simply “the right thing to do”.

On the one hand, we have a group wanting to build a religious centre, with a stated goal of also reaching out to other communities in the interest of collaboration and understanding. While I know there are those who see more subversive goals behind the project, I am willing to take what they propose at face value.

It is very clear that the construction of this complex (if I understand correctly, it is more than a mosque) is legal. This has been made clear at many levels of government, up to and including the president. They own the land. What they want to do fits within the zoning for the land. To be clear, what they want to do is completely legal, and they are fully within their rights to proceed.

That said, it is also clear that a significant number of people (I hesitate to say a majority, as I do not believe any statistics published by the media) are upset and offended by this plan. Some are upset because they a paranoid, xenophobic extremists who are absolutely convinced that anything Islamic is inherently evil. There also many, however, who are normal, rational people who have an understandable sensitivity when it comes to the events of 9/11. It is this second group whose feelings should be considered in this matter. While I do not believe any of the rhetoric that the mosque complex is a conspiracy to infiltrate the US, or to be a slap in the face or “victory symbol” for the 9/11 attacks, it is very clear that the project is causing pain to many people.

So what does this mean? It means that the right thing to do here has nothing to do with what is legally allowed. The right thing to do is to recognize and embrace the people who are genuinely hurt by this proposal. The right thing to do is to tell them “while we know we have the legal right to build our mosque, and we will not be bullied or coerced into changing our plans, out of compassion for those for whom we are unintentionally causing pain, we will change our plans and move our project somewhere less sensitive.” This would go a long way towards improving the image of Islam in American, and disarming the extreme “Islamo-phobes” who are so vocal. Again, this is the right thing to do, as opposed to merely the legal.

Turning attention now to events in Florida and the Christian group planning to burn Qurans as a philosophical statement. As opposed to the supporters of the mosque project, this Christian group is wilfully and intentionally acting to cause pain and upset to Muslims around the world. It is their stated intent to offend Muslims. This event has been vocally opposed by religious leaders of every persuasion. It has been opposed by political leaders at all levels and of all philosophical leanings.

The unfortunate fact, however, is that as morally reprehensible as these actions are, they are perfectly legal. What they are doing is legal, and to force them to abandon their plans would definitely not be the right thing to do, as it would infringe upon their rights and only further fuel their hatred.

As what they are doing is perfectly legal, what should we do about it? Well, for one thing, stop giving them so much attention. Unfortunately, it is far too late for that as this has been publicized around the world. The only thing we can do is stand by and watch. And forgive them. We can also make sure that we use this as example to explain to our children why this type of hatred and intentional disrespect is wrong. Finally, we can embrace those who are hurt and offended by this action, those who are its targets, and try to make them understand that we share their pain and outrage. Even though the book-burners are doing what is legal, we can take it upon ourselves to do what is right.

If only we could spend more time focusing upon what is the right thing to do, versus simply what we are legally allowed to do, we might have some hope of moving forward.

Republic Air CEO puts his faith to work

 Republic Air CEO puts his faith to work – The Denver Post

I find this extremely disturbing. It is part of a major trend over the last couple of decades whereby self-proclaimed “people of faith” try to inflict their beliefs on those around them. It is especially inappropriate when the CEO of a corporation makes it clear that the organizations beliefs are Christian beliefs. While the article says:

Bedford says he doesn’t try to convert anyone or require faith as an employment litmus test.

Unfortunately that fact that he makes it clear that the organization’s beliefs are Christian beliefs, any employee who does not share those beliefs is going to feel extremely threatened. If I am an Atheist, Wiccan, Buddhist, or an adherent to any belief system which does not match the Christian view of God, I would feel pressured to either pretend to share Christian beliefs, or leave. I would certainly feel like I had no career path in this organization.

I am not saying an organization should no put forward a value system. What is wrong is to bring an explicit statement of a specific religious doctrine into it. If his vision statements such as “every employee, regardless of personal beliefs or world view, has been created in the image and likeness of God.”, that is imposing upon me a creationist, fundamentalist view of the world, which is inappropriate.

Also implicit in this kind of thing is the commonly held belief (among “true believers”, anyway) that if you do not believe in God, and specifically a Judeo-Christian God, then you do not have beliefs, or morals, or values, or principles. I would put my beliefs and morals and principles up against any Christian on the planet – and am fairly confident my values are more “Christian” than those who support war, capital punishment, intolerance, racism, and yet call themselves “Christian”.

So, bring all the values and principles you want into a company, but please leave your religious dogma at the door.

PS – I did not mean to imply that my values are perfect, or that I am in any way perfect – only that being “Christian” is hardly proof positive that you have strong values, or any values at all for that matter.

What’s Wrong with SharePoint?

So, I am watching Twitter updates go by (as I always do, even on a Saturday night), including my search that shows me all the tweets with “sharepoint” in them. As anyone knows who watches any amount of SharePoint commentary go by, there is a fairly constant flow of comments of the “SharePoint sucks” variety.

So this evening this led me to ask the question “What is wrong with SharePoint?” No, I do not mean I want a list of every nit picking, annoying little defect – every platform has defects and annoyances. I also do not want to know why SharePoint is note good for everything – no platform is good for everything. I also do not give a crap if your opinion is “it comes from Microsoft therefore it MUST suck” – it that is as deep as your analysis can go, well, you’re a moron.

What I want to see from SOMEONE is an intelligent, well thought out description of why SharePoint sucks. Why is it a bad choice for anything? Why should you perform an exorcism on all servers running any version of SharePoint?

I did a web search (notice I did not say “google” – contrary to popular usage, google is not a verb) for “what is wrong with SharePoint?” The only relevant results I found on either Google or Bing were written in 2005 or before, and hence are not particularly relevant at this point. For example, the post Five Things Wrong with SharePoint from back in 2005 tries to talk about what is actually wrong  with SharePoint. Even though I disagree with a lot of what it says, I will not refute it since it is so old.

So – if SharePoint is so bad…if all the otherwise intelligent people implementing solutions over SharePoint are wrong – where the heck are the statements as to what is wrong with it. So tell me – WHAT IS WRONG WITH SHAREPOINT? I really want to know, and to share it with others.